A big question following the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 2 loss to the Baltimore Ravens was about the team’s usage of their safety talent.
After having a standout performance in the Week 1 win against the Cleveland Browns, Juan Thornhill played just 11 snaps in the Week 2 loss. Meanwhile, veteran DB Daniel Sorensen played 100% of the team’s defensive snaps on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the loss, Spagnuolo explained there is a constant dialogue surrounding snaps, but he’s not planning to make a position change at this time.
“Yeah, there is dialogue on that all the time,” Spagnuolo said. “Look, Juan (Thornhill) has done a good job. He’s had spurts of good football. But when you talk about — what you’re asking about is a position change. A position change has to be merited when someone is not playing well and they need improvement there. I mean, if you asked Dan (Sorensen) I’m sure he’d tell you that he wants to play better. If you ask any of the 11 guys who play the positions on defense, I’m sure they’re going to tell you that they want to play better.”
Sorensen leads the NFL in missed tackles through two weeks, but Spagnuolo isn’t ready to panic about the eighth-year veteran’s performance. In fact, he’s seen this happen before with the same player and is certain improvement will come.
“To me, what I think that is with Dan (Sorensen) is just a bit coming under control,” Spagnuolo explained. “The one thing we love about Dan is, he’s not going to miss a tackle being soft. That’s not a bad thing. I believe, I’d have to go back, but I am almost certain this same thing happened to Dan last year. No preseason games, you came out for the first two games, I know the missed tackles were there last year too. And Dan became really one of our most consistent and aggressive tacklers. We’re not ready to panic on that right now and I know he’s not.”
As for Thornhill, Spagnuolo seemed to suggest that he’s still earning his way back to more playing time. In Week 1, they needed him to play extended snaps because of Tyrann Mathieu’s absence.
“Juan has done some good things for us, he just needs to earn his way back,” Spagnuolo continued. “Juan and I had a conversation on Tuesday. The game obviously, the first game, Tyrann (Mathieu) didn’t play, so Juan was out there a lot. In this game, Tyrann is coming back and Dan’s in there.”
So why didn’t Thornhill receive more playtime in Week 2? Well, you can thank the Ravens for that.
“What did happen, in the packages that Juan is in there for, we weren’t in them very much,” Spagnuolo said. “I mean, Baltimore kept us in our base package with just two safeties out there.”
I’m sure you’ve heard that sub-packages are the new base defense in the NFL. Well, offensive coordinators are finally adjusting their personnel to keep teams in their base packages, which have been almost ignored by GMs as they build their teams. It’s not just the Ravens who are doing this either.
Some offenses are living in heavier personnel (they referenced LV) to put DC’s in base more often, reducing some of the exotic sub package looks they’ve focused on.
— Craig Stout (@barleyhop) September 23, 2021
Thornhill wasn’t on the field more frequently in Week 2 because he plays in the big nickel package when the Chiefs have three safeties on the field. The Chiefs have been stuck in their base personnel with three linebackers on the field often through the first two weeks.
Moving forward, Spagnuolo did seem to think that Thornhill would have more opportunities to mix in. It’s just a matter of matchups, health, performance and so on.
“We’ll see where it goes,” Spagnuolo said. “Before it’s all said and done we’re going to need everybody. Juan, Dan, everybody.”